I Put Aside Vanity and Now Live in Freedom

By Ma Yan

Not long ago, my job required me to transfer from my branch to work at head office. You can’t imagine how happy I was: I could finally work at a place where I could make the most of my ability and improve my professional competence. So I worked at full stretch: Whenever I encountered professional difficulties I would actively consult and learn from others, and I often worked overtime. I believed that as long as I worked hard, I’d certainly be able to formulate good plans to win the satisfaction and approval of my boss and my co-workers. I would be covered in glory. Finally, my days of hard work paid off: Several of my plans were chosen, and my colleagues all cast looks of envy at me. I felt glorious, and couldn’t help being pleased with myself. I secretly resolved to make full use of all my time to improve my effectiveness and formulate even better plans.

Christian work seriously

One time, our company needed a plan for the online promotion of a new product, so I made one and handed it in to the department team leader. Being certain of the plan’s success, I thought to myself: “To finish it I have worked overtime for quite a few days. Once it passes the team leader’s evaluation, it will be presented to our general manager. When my co-workers know that I have come up with another successful plan, they will once again look at me with envy. Then I will have even more face …”

To my surprise, when the team leader analyzed my plan with my colleagues in a meeting, she pointed out that there were many shortcomings in it, that I was too anxious for quick success, and that my plan was crude, lacked practical details, was full of loopholes, and so wouldn’t meet the clients’ needs. Hearing all this, I wanted to explain and defend myself, but the team leader became increasingly energized as she spoke, sparing no time for me to cut in. When I saw all my colleagues were looking at me, I felt so embarrassed that I just wanted to crawl into a hole. At the same time, I was full of anger: “How could you say this? You didn’t spare my feelings at all. Even if my plan isn’t feasible, couldn’t you just have a private talk about it with me? Aren’t you purposely embarrassing me by scolding me in the presence of so many people,? How can I stay here in the future? How can I face my colleagues?” The more I thought about this, the more I felt distressed and wronged, and my spirits were very low. I had been working day and night on it for days, and now I was made to look worthless by her scolding. It really was a disgrace. At this thought, I got angry and impatient, and even felt like I was about to lose my temper and shout at her: “Are you done?” But a second thought reminded me that, as a Christian, I should learn to be tolerant and not do things emotionally. And so I controlled my anger during the whole meeting.

In the evening I returned home. Thinking back to what had happened that day made me upset, so I went to the balcony to take a breath. When I looked into the dark sky and thought of my loss of face in full view of my co-workers, I felt depressed. How could I face them in future? How embarrassed would I be when interacting with them? With these thoughts I was getting more and more miserable, so I called on God, “God! Today my team leader criticized me before my co-workers for my shortcomings at work. I feel ashamed and distressed. I don’t know how to face them in future. May You lead me so that I can understand Your will and no longer live in pain.”

After my prayer, I went back to my room, picked up a book of God’s words, and saw the following passage: “People often live in the corrupt satanic disposition, do not put the truth into practice, and betray the truth. They frequently live within a selfish and despicable corrupt satanic disposition, protect their own image, their own reputation, status, and interests. They have not gained the truth. So you are distressed, troubled, and bound too much, and these things are seen according to your state.” Weren’t God’s words reflecting my situation exactly? It turned out that my pain resulted from my living under the control of vanity. Thinking carefully, I remembered that from the moment I entered the head office I wanted to do the best I could lest others should say that I was useless. When I did a good job and gained the admiration of my colleagues, I felt the glow of glory on my face and was delighted inside. It seemed that my life was full of hope. When others brought up the shortcomings of my work, which caused me to lose face, I felt my face burning, as if someone had slapped me, and was uncomfortable inside. Worried that my colleagues would laugh at and look down upon me, I even wanted to give vent to my rage to save face. I realized that being tightly bound by the need for face, fame and position had caused me so much pain. If I could focus on practicing God’s words and put aside my vanity, calmly face the faults in my work and admit my shortcomings, then I would be able to handle this kind of matter correctly and accept it. And wasn’t this the way for me to not be fooled by Satan, and to not suffer anymore? Thinking of this, I took a deep breath, and felt much lighter in my heart.

A few days later, I finished revising my plan. But when we discussed it together, the team leader rejected it once again. By contrast, she praised several good points of another plan, and she even stood up and spoke in a more and more energetic way. Hearing her constant praise of my colleague’s strengths, I was very distressed. I thought: “Why couldn’t you just bring up my problem briefly, and leave it at that. How come you keep talking? Now you even stand up and praise their plan. And why are you so excited? Making me lose face in the presence of so many people, isn’t it too much? According to you, there is nothing useful in my plan.” At that point, my disobedience and discontent surfaced again. I realized that my state was not right. Sitting before the computer, I kept calling out to God: “God! May You keep my heart quiet, so that I no longer protect my vanity, so that I don’t flare up and get used by Satan. I’m willing to rely on You to practice the truth, to put aside my concerns about face, and accept my shortcomings as pointed out by others as well as their suggestions.”

Having finished my prayer, I felt more at peace, and I thought of God’s words, which say: “The more you set aside the more relaxed you will be—the more set aside the more relaxed. You will become free and liberated. In the day when you become free and liberated, you will feel that the things you have forsaken are entanglements, and the things you have truly obtained are most precious to you. You will feel that those are the most valuable things and most worthy of your treasuring. Those things you liked—material pleasures, fame and fortune, status, money, face, and the honor of others—will seem worthless to you. Those things caused you great suffering, and you will want them no more. You won’t want them even if they are given to you. You don’t need them!” That’s right! The cause of my pain was that I lived according to Satan’s law “As a tree lives for its bark, a man lives for his face,” and so put my vanity and others’ admiration above all else. Thus, when the team leader pointed out the shortcomings and deficiencies in my plan, I lost face, my heart was in a tumult, and I even wanted to let lose my temper and defend my reasons to make others approve of me. In order to protect my face, I worried about personal gains and losses, and thus lived in pain and depression. But if I could act according to God’s words, put aside my vanity and listen to others’ suggestions first, and forsake myself and open my mind rather than allowing my vanity to take over, then not only would I live out the likeness of a Christian, but I’d also be able to accept others’ opinions and instructions and make up for the deficiencies and shortcomings in my work. What a pleasure that would be! Conversely, if I always considered my own face and refused to accept the shortcomings brought up by others for fear that they would laugh at and look down upon me, I would never improve. Thanks God for His guidance!

I Put Aside Vanity and Now Live in Freedom

Right at that time, some of my colleagues came to console me, saying: “Let’s have a good talk and learn from each other. If we work hard and cooperate well, we will do a good job. Don’t be affected by any setbacks.” These warm words touched my heart. I knew that this was God sending them to comfort me. Therefore, I talked with them, and opened up about my own ugly side. I saw it was because I always wanted to preserve face that I was unwilling to listen when my team leader gave instructions, and was unable to face this matter calmly. Then I said to them: “In the future, I will no longer just try to preserve face; instead, I will treat my shortcomings correctly. Let’s cooperate and make up for each other’s shortcomings in order to do the work well.” When I finished saying all the things within my heart, I found that my team leader and other colleagues not only didn’t despise me but even helped and encouraged me. To my surprise, the team leader also spoke honestly with me, saying that her attitude wasn’t good when pointing out my shortcomings. She also apologized to me and asked me to just work and not think about it all because she was always like that when she got impatient. After our talk I felt much more relaxed. Practicing the truth really can liberate you!

Afterward, when I calmed down, I found that there were many inadequacies in my plan; what they suggested was completely suitable. I was so embarrassed: Because of my vanity, I actually refused to listen to my leader’s right advice. Vanity is truly harmful! In future, I must practice the truth and betray myself more, and never bind myself to my vanity. Since then, I no longer expect others to praise me to satisfy my vanity, but instead I put my heart and mind into my work. When I have difficulties and there are deficiencies in my work, I just forget about face and communicate with my co-workers to reach agreement. Through experiencing all this, I have tasted the happiness of practicing the truth and now feel that the word of God is the truth, the way, and the life. If we behave in accordance with God’s words, we will gain freedom and liberation, and only then will we have peace and joy.

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